When a potential client comes in to find if they have a medical malpractice case, they may be surprised that taking a med mal case to trial can take 3 years or more. Why do medical malpractice cases take so long?
Will my medical malpractice case take years before I get compensation?
The answer to how long it will take before you will find out if you recover damages in your medical malpractice case is: it depends. That may not be a satisfying answer but it is important to know how a medical malpractice case works and that you may be able to resolve your case quickly, depending on the situation.
Yes, it can take 3 years or more for a medical malpractice case to go through the entire process, from making a demand to a jury trial and possible appeals. But most medical malpractice cases do not go to a jury and are settled before they even get to trial. The settlement process can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of years.
I want my case to be settled as fast as possible!
It is possible to get a quick settlement. However, a quick settlement may not cover all your damages. The insurance companies for the doctors and hospitals often want to push for a quick settlement, hoping the injury victim will not realize the full extent of their losses.
For example, a patient gets liposuction and a month later, has pain, extensive scarring, and uneven fat distribution. The patient complains to the plastic surgeon and threatens a lawsuit. The doctor or insurance company says they will give the patient $5,000 in exchange for releasing all claims. If the patient accepts the settlement, that may be the end of the case.
However, a couple of months later, the patient notices the pain is getting worse, making them take time off work and leaving them bedridden for days. Unfortunately, it may be too late to sue the doctor because the patient already signed a release.
It is important to talk to an experienced medical malpractice attorney so you understand the full extent of your injuries and your rights to compensation. A quick settlement may not be in your best interest.
The Medical Malpractice Process
There are a few things unique to medical malpractice cases that may take longer compared to other civil lawsuits.
Process of Elimination
When filing a complaint, your lawsuit may need to name everyone involved in care in the initial filing, even if you are pretty sure it was one doctor who was responsible. Failing to name all the parties could harm your case down the road.
If you later discover an unnamed party was partly responsible for the injury, it may be too late to add them to the complaint because it is past the statute of limitations. All possible parties are named in the beginning, and over time, parties not responsible are eliminated until the case is narrowed.
Medical Expert Review and Reports
There are also heightened pleading standards in medical malpractice cases. The courts generally require an affidavit or certificate of merit from a medical professional to say that there appears to be a breach of the standard of care.
Throughout the case, each side may use a number of medical experts to provide opinions and reports on the case. Because the jury and judge are not doctors or surgeons, a medical expert may be necessary to explain the standard of care of that position and why the doctor breached their duty of care.
Discovery is the process of gathering and exchanging information before a trial. Discovery is extensive in medical malpractice cases. It may involve reviewing thousands of pages of medical records, submitting medical records for expert review, question and answer interrogatories, and depositions with dozens of doctors, nurses, assistants, techs, family members, and hospital staff.
How long will my case take to resolve?
If you believe that you may be the victim of malpractice, the Gilman & Bedigian legal team can answer your questions and concerns. We’re committed to educating patients and families who have been harmed by the medical industry to understand their rights and help obtain compensation. To speak with a member of our personal injury team, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (800) 529-6162 today.